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Powdery slopes draw skiers to Waterman despite obstacles including road closure

Icy roads, detours and the lack of ski patrol services did not keep skiers from enjoying powder conditions in the Angeles National Forest above La Cañada on Presidents Day.

After waiting weeks to open, Mt. Waterman Ski Resort on Angeles Crest Highway prepared to welcome hundreds of skiers who made the hour-plus drive past road detours and snow-covered roads only to learn the ski patrol did not make it to the resort due to of road closures.

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A detour via Angeles Forest Highway and Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road guided visitors away from a landslide on Angeles Crest a few miles east of Mt. Wilson Road. Icy conditions were present in many spots on the roads. But even under those circumstances, determined skiers and snowboarders made the trip up the mountain to enjoy a day in the snow.

Mt. Waterman resort co-owner Rick Metcalf noted it was a perfectly beautiful day, but “the ski patrol is not allowed to go past the road closure to get up here.” With no ski patrol on hand, he said, “we could not open for the public.”

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Not being able to buy a ticket and use the chair lift did not deter many of those who arrived for what was supposed to be the official season opener.

Ward Christensen of La Cañada Flintridge, who has skied at Mt. Waterman since the 1960s, said “trying to get up here was a fun adventure. The road was a little sketchy, but … once we got here the only thing missing was ski patrol. They couldn’t put us all on the lift, so we gave up and decided to climb the mountain ourselves.”

He added that after an hour of climbing, he and his wife, Ann, made it to the top. “We skied one beautiful run on about 3 feet of hard pack with 8 inches of fresh tracks on top. Had lots of turns without crossing anybody else tracks.”

Ann Christensen said she’s been skiing for about 30 years, and it’s “the lightest powder” she has seen at the local resort.

Many visitors walked up the mountain with skis or snowboards on their backs.

Esther Kim of Los Angeles was among those. After hiking the mountain, she snowboarded down. She said the powder was “amazing, dry and fluffy, not super deep but rideable, delicious and tasty.”

Metcalf said the public should “come on up next week. It’s going to be a beautiful weekend. There’s going to be fresh powder, and its going to be a lot of fun.”

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